Ross Sy­mons’ origami cre­ations are jumping into some ma­jor an­i­ma­tion projects.

SHIBUI Issue - - CONTENTS - CURATOR BRISEIS ONFRAY THE MAKER ROSS SY­MONS (CRE­ATIVE FOUNDER, WHITE ON RICE) PHOTOS CON­TRIB­UTED BY WHITE ON RICE COUN­TRY SOUTH AFRICA

IT’S A RARE PROFESSION, BUT ROSS SY­MONS IS FOLDING HIS IMAG­I­NA­TION TO MAKE THE CUT AS AN ORIGAMI ARTIST AND ANIMATOR FOR SOME MEGA BRANDS. FOR­GET PA­PER PLANES. HIS PULP-FICTION CHAR­AC­TERS ARE LIT­ER­ALLY, JUMPING OFF THE PAGE!

WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIG­I­NALLY? AND WHERE ARE YOU BASED NOW?

I grew up in Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa but I now live in Cape Town.

YOU HAVE A UNIQUE AND EN­GAG­ING PROFESSION. HOW, WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BE­COME AN ORIGAMI ARTIST?

I’ve worked in a few in­dus­tries but my last job, back in 2013, was work­ing in ad­ver­tis­ing as a web de­vel­oper. At the time, I had this fas­ci­na­tion with folding pa­per. It was just some­thing to keep me from los­ing my mind in a cor­po­rate job. I had all th­ese folded shapes around my com­puter screen and I re­alised that I was pretty ob­sessed. So I de­cided to fo­cus on get­ting bet­ter at this origami thing. In 2014 I com­mit­ted to folding one fig­ure every day for a year and posted each piece onto In­sta­gram. That kicked off my jour­ney to be­com­ing an origami pro­fes­sional. It was also the year the I quit my cor­po­rate job to do free­lance work. Fast for­ward to the end of 2014 and I had quite a large fol­low­ing on In­sta­gram and brands started ap­proach­ing me to do cus­tom origami installations and origami stop mo­tion animations. It was at this point that I re­alised that this was what I wanted to do. I now cre­ate con­tent for so­cial me­dia cam­paigns, cus­tom origami installations and cus­tom origami pieces.

ORIGAMI IS AS JA­PANESE AS ‘SHIBUI’. DO YOU HAVE A PER­SONAL OR CULTURAL CON­NEC­TION WITH JA­PAN?

Def­i­nitely a per­sonal con­nec­tion. Since I was a kid I’ve had a deep in­ter­est in Ja­panese cul­ture. I just love how they are so pro­fes­sional in their ap­proach to cre­at­ing. I am also crazy about Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion.

WHEN AND HOW DID YOU LEARN THE ART OF ORIGAMI?

I’m still learn­ing every day and I think I will be for a long long time. But in 2014 I got my hands on a book called Origami De­signs Se­crets by Robert Lang. That book is the origami de­sign bible and has helped me learn how how to de­sign origami fig­ures. That cou­pled with meet­ing one of the origami rock­stars of the world, Sipho Mabona. He has been a men­tor to me since I started de­sign­ing.

PA­PER COMES IN MANY FORMS. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE STOCK TO WORK WITH?

I like work­ing with thicker pa­per which can be damp­ened a bit with­out tear­ing. This can be any­thing from 100 to 200gsm. By wet­ting the pa­per it helps cre­ate more or­ganic shapes. But I also like work­ing with very thin pa­per which al­lows you to cre­ate more de­tailed de­signs.

AS THE CRE­ATIVE FOUNDER BE­HIND ‘WHITE ON RICE’, WHAT IS IT THAT CLIENTS LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR ART­WORK?

I think it’s the magic of see­ing a sheet of pa­per turn­ing into a fig­ure that is recog­nis­able as some­thing life­like, ie. a dragon, horse, but­ter­fly or what­ever. That and a bit of hu­mour. I like adding some quirk­i­ness to the work too. Life is too short to be se­ri­ous all the time. And also, origami is thought of as a craft for kids.

When they see my work or any other origami artist’s work, there is a new-found un­der­stand­ing of what can be achieved with pa­per and the amount of work that goes into cre­at­ing a sin­gle orig­i­nal piece.

IT’S A DIG­I­TAL WORLD, SO FIND­ING DE­MAND FOR HAND-MADE DE­SIGN MUST BE RE­WARD­ING AS AN ARTIST. WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOUR WORK THAT IS SO POP­U­LAR TO CLIENTS?

Origami is some­thing that not many peo­ple do pro­fes­sion­ally so clients find my work very dif­fer­ent. I op­er­ate in both the dig­i­tal as well as the phys­i­cal realm which for me is re­ally im­por­tant. I love both of th­ese worlds equally. I think clients ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that I’ve man­aged to use pa­per to cre­ate folded crea­tures and fig­ures and then an­i­mate or pho­to­graph them so they go back into the dig­i­tal world. It’s taken me a while but I’m now good at pre­sent­ing the origami shapes in a way that is not of­ten seen. In an­i­mated sto­ries or still shots.

FROM 2-D TO 3-D INSTALLATIONS AND ANIMATIONS, WHAT IS THE LARGEST PROJECT YOU HAVE CRE­ATED, AND WHAT WAS IT FOR?

I did a project in Jo­han­nes­burg in 2016 which was 2 animations and 1600 origami but­ter­flies for a brand ac­ti­va­tion. A brand called Strong­bow was re­launch­ing in South Africa and they wanted some­thing dif­fer­ent to cre­ate hype around the prod­uct.

WHERE DOES CRE­ATIVE DI­REC­TION FOR AN ORIGAMI PROJECT COME FROM?

If it’s for a client that wants some­thing spe­cific de­signed then I will go in a di­rec­tion based on their con­cept.

“I HAD QUITE A LARGE FOL­LOW­ING ON IN­STA­GRAM AND BRANDS STARTED AP­PROACH­ING ME TO DO CUS­TOM ORIGAMI INSTALLATIONS AND ORIGAMI STOP MO­TION ANIMATIONS.”

But if I’m do­ing an an­i­ma­tion for my In­sta­gram ac­count or de­sign­ing an origami an­i­mal just for kicks, then that in­spi­ra­tion can come from any­where re­ally. The in­ter­net is a great place to find cool ideas but gen­er­ally I will be walk­ing down the road or drink­ing cof­fee and an idea will just rock up. I keep pa­per with me all the time so if an idea does de­scend, then I’m ready to go.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL DES­TI­NA­TION AND WHY?

I love Tokyo and I will go back there over and over again, but every place I visit has its own charm. I do have a soft spot for is­land des­ti­na­tions too.

IS THERE ANY­THING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?

If you’re read­ing this and you are ar­gu­ing with your­self about whether you should put your new cre­ative idea out there… stop ar­gu­ing. Don’t think about it and just put it out there. Don’t worry if some­one is going to steal your idea. Don’t worry if some­one says your work is s**t. Don’t worry if this is going to be­come an in­ter­net sen­sa­tion. Just get out of your own way and make. That’s what cre­atives do. We make stuff. So go and make stuff.

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